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Oilers pleased to see netting removed at Pason Arena

Sixty feet of black netting in front of the penalty and press boxes at Pason Centennial Arena will be removed and replaced with eight-foot glass.
FM Oilers Game Day 8147
A cameraman captures action for the game day productions at Pason Centennial Arena on Nov. 5, 2021. (Brent Calver Photo)

Changes will be made to the netting and boards at Okotoks' Pason Centennial Arena, nearly one year after concerns were raised by the Okotoks Jr. A Oilers on the netting's impact to their video and livestreaming needs. 

On June 27, council voted 4-3 to remove 60 feet of black netting from in front of the press and penalty boxes, while also replacing the existing six-foot glass in that area with eight-foot glass. 

"Overjoyed would be the word," said Tyler King, Oilers assistant general manager business operations on how he feels about the decision. 

"It's been a longtime coming, but it also opens up a lot of opportunities for the team and the facility." 

King said Okotoks and Pason have been underutilized when it comes to event hosting and making the building more livestream, media and spectator friendly is a positive step in getting more events in the community. 

He added the organization is looking ahead of its 29 regular season home games —to what the next five years could look like. 

"If we set up our facility in a way where it's inviting for these kinds of things to come here, it increases facility usage and it's broader than just the sports impact," he said. "It's the economic impact."

This option was one of four presented by indoor recreation facilities manager Doug Robson.

Two of the options were not considered viable by administration, in part due to increased risk and liability posed by the one option and the unfavourable filming height and angle for the other. 

Supply chain disruptions over the last 10 months resulted in delays to the decision, which was initially requested to be completed by Dec. 31. 

While the delay wasn't ideal, King said he is glad the final decision is something both parties agree on. 

"We understand that the Town has to balance a lot of different priorities and also they're the ultimate responsible party for this facility," he said. "So we understood that it wasn't something they could rush into.

"More so, we're just happy that the end point was a compromise that everyone's happy with." 

Of the 16 rinks which are home to AJHL teams, just six have netting surrounding the entire ice surface. Okotoks is currently one of those. Netting at each end of the ice is mandatory. 

When the arena played host to the Esso and TELUS Cups in May, Hockey Canada was permitted to remove a portion of the netting to enhance the broadcast quality and experience, which occurred without incident for the duration of the tournament.  

The length of netting which will be removed will be less than what was removed for the U18 championships. 

Coun. Brent Robinson made the motion to make the changes, echoing King's point and explaining how important it is to have high quality streaming at a facility for it to be considered for sporting events at the provincial and national level, even for teams as young as U12. 

"I can tell you as someone else who runs minor sports events and has been at a lot of minor sports events, that increasingly people are coming to expect a web streaming option," said Robinson. "This is no longer an optional thing you can have as part of your event.

"They want to know that there is going to be an option for anyone anywhere to watch these things."